Way in the day before martial arts was about wining medals, plastic medal trophies, or a title belt, studying about the martial arts was about war and self defense. Utilized in the time when ranks were not a matter of what belt you wore but a time you could save your life in life and threatening situation. Now many styles utilize tournament competitions for students of various of styles to learn from their experiences. Not everyone who competes will win and those who lose will learn to win from their experiences the next time around.
Competition is to be fun where individuals can learn what to improve on their skills. Its good to win medals to show one's accomplishments. But winning a medal or a trophy is just an experience to show you are learning. Competition should not be so focused to win a prize, but how it changes the individual what the martial arts has helped them to grow. In the end, even if an individual wins in competitions, the real test is how your skills will be used in the real world, outside of the ring. Where all of the experiences are to teach to hone and master mistakes to become not only a better competitor, but to master oneself and abilities as a fighter.
No matter what style you choose or wish to learn, its all the same in the end, learning how to protect yourself. Competitions give you an understanding to be put on the spotlight. So as in the real world, when the time comes to save your own life or someone you love and care about, your skills will be analyzed after you feel the real pain from being hit. Meanwhile enjoy competing and have fun from the experiences. If you lose, you never really lost, you only gain to become better. If you win, remember its not about the medals, but if you can fight back to stay alive on the street.